‘Downton Abbey’ Season Four Will Premiere Early Next Year

The fourth season of Downton Abbey will premiere in the US early next year.

Although fans of the hit series may have to wait a while before new episodes make their way Stateside, at least they now have a date to mark on their calendars.

PBS has announced that Downton Abbey season four will debut on January 5, 2014. The series will run for eight weeks, culminating in the February 23 finale.

The show’s third go-around proved to be a huge hit for the network; it is now the highest-rated drama in PBS history.

Since a few familiar faces will not be returning for the next season of Downton, producers are introducing some new characters into the storyline. Actors Tom Cullen, Nigel Harman, and Dame Harriet Walter are reportedly joining the cast during the new season.

During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, producer Julian Fellowes briefly touched on where the next season of Downton Abbey would kick off. Although he didn’t give too many details about the plot, he explained that the “spine” of the new season would deal with Mary rebuilding her life.

While you’re waiting for the new season to get here, you can always stock up on a number of Downton Abbey-related products that are slated to hit retail shelves later this year. Included in the tie-ins are furniture, wallpaper, and period-inspired clothing.

“In retail terms, the first series launched the program and the brand, the second year ratified it and the show didn’t even hit its high point in the U.S. until this year when series three ended in the US. It’s very rare for a British drama to have this much retail potential and merchandising value,” explained Carnival Films’ Gareth Neame.

While certain items are already available to fans, others are expected to arrive by the end of 2013.

Are you your excited for the new season of Downton Abbey?